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ANALYSIS: Inevitability of a coup (Engels)
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ANALYSIS: Inevitability of a coup (Engels)

Alejandro Lichauco

The Daily Tribune
January 23, 2006

The reason a coup is inevitable is that the acute social unrest brought about by the acute and widespread poverty has been joined and reinforced by the acute unrest in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) brought about by the deprived condition of its rank-and-file. Up to this point, the social ferment has been confined to the deprived strata of the civilian population. That explains why the communist insurgency has refused to die down. Today, however, the ferment has crept into the rank-and-file of the AFP. It is that fusion which has provided the spark needed to ignite a combined military-civilian rebellion - and which has made a coup inevitable. Idealist and restive elements in the military can only feel encouraged, and even prodded, into military action by the sense that they won't be alone.

That should explain growing talks that idealist and restive elements in the AFP are now engaged in a working dialog with the New People's Army (NPA) and why the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)/NPA have ceased to regard the entire AFP as necessarily the "enemy of the people." Proof of this is the latest statement of the junior officers who constitute the Magdalo group. The four members of the 'Magdalo group", who were engaged in a coup in July 2003 and escaped in January 2006, gave notice that they "don't merely seek a change in (political) personalities; but a change in the system where the people's interest will be truly supreme."

That kind of talk of conventional military standard is nothing less than subversive. It represents a quantum leap in the political and social consciousness of the young officers who obviously have ceased to be concerned solely with their plight as soldiers and whose area of concern has now expanded to include the plight of the people. With that statement, it is now only a matter of time before the junior officers begin talking ideology, but one supposes that would come after the takeover. What suffices at the moment is that the pressure on the AFP to replace the nation's political leadership has become irresistible, because that pressure comes not only from outside the AFP but from within the military establishment itself.
Hence, the inevitability of a coup. It can come tomorrow; it can come next month or it can come next year. But come it will and the nation had better brace for it.

Another reason why a coup is inevitable has to do with the reported link between the Young Officers Union (YOU) and the Young Officer Union-new generation (YOUng). The former represents the generation of military elements identified with a series of coup attempts after Edsa 1 led then by Gen. Abenina, Ray Cabauatan, Gringo Honasan, Rod Kapunan, Abraham Puruganan and Danny Lim.
The YOUng, as you know, represents the generation of the Oakwood mutineers and the Magdalos.
Senator Rodolfo Biazon reported on that link-up during an interview with reporters of the Daily Tribune and confessed to being privy to the reported holding of talks between the YOU and the YOUng..." With these two separate generations of military dissidents forging a union, Biazon, a former chief of staff himself, had reason to speak of "the increasing strength of rebel forces right within the military organization."

Members of the YOU, included then Capt. Danny Lim, now a general, would now be occupying the upper ranks of military officialdom. So there's reason to suppose that the coup, should it come, won't be confined to the junior officers represented by Lt. Col. Antonio Trillanes and the Oakwood mutineers. This link between the YOU and the YOUng, as reported by Senator Biazon, is easily the military story of the week. What this reported "link" can be signaling is a consolidation of elements in the AFP, both young and no longer young, eager and determined to take political command of the government in order to undertake needed changes both in the military and in Philippine society. If so, then what we are witnessing is the politicalization of the military in the true sense of the word.

What we could possibly be looking at is the incipient emergence of a new politics, heavily influenced and even dominated by patriotic-nationalist elements of the AFP. They will do for the country what the politicians should have done a long time ago, but which they didn't do. In which case, it isn't only Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her political gang who have reason to fear. Even the political opposition has reason to fear.

 


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